What's the deal with the time limit?

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idn
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What's the deal with the time limit?

Post by idn »

Hello,

I've registered myself just to ask this one question - where's the possible, plausible explanation of the turn limit?

I get the basic "why" - it's to make things harder. But what is this game? A shooter, where you have 3 minutes to kill the boss, because of a bomb that'll explode at 0:00 and destroy the planet? Don't you think "too bad, you've run out of turns, you're dead" when killing the boss with your whole army kinda destroys the immersion? I'd get it if it was implemented like this: after 100 turns the enemy gets so many reinforcements, that you have no chance of defeating them (and you can fight them if you like, not just get the message). or: the enemy holds your vip hostage and will kill him in 60 turns. But not the way it is in most missions. "Now we'll never defeat them", when there's only one or two enemy units and your army owns the whole map. Or you're killing the boss, who's alone, has no minions or money, and you get the information that he ravages the land (and holds your brother captive, but that's pretty irrelevant to killing him). Those are just the early examples.

It's not the turn limit I dislike, it's the lack of coherent implementation that strikes me. Don't any of you think like that?
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Re: What's the deal with the time limit?

Post by thespaceinvader »

It depends entirely on the scenario. In some cases, it's the time before enemy or friendly reinforcements will arrive. IN some cases (particularly when there's an objective to get to a certain place) you need to get out or in before a deadline...

It can be a little frustrating when, as you note, you've NEARLY cleared up the whole of the enemy, and the time limit hits you. But it's not a universal problem, by any means.
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Turuk
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Re: What's the deal with the time limit?

Post by Turuk »

Nope. While I understand your point that it is not relevant to the storyline at times, it is put into place to make the player realize the sense of urgency that is needed. Some of the campaigns revolve around trying to quickly complete a quest or get through an area, and so the lack of turns would imply that the main character can take their time. The idea of turns in campaigns is addressed in the following:
ESR's Campaign Design wrote: When regulating the difficulty of a scenario you have three main knobs you can turn: the starting gold, the recruitment lists, and the turn limit. When you want to turn the difficulty up, increasing enemy gold is probably the first thing you should think of and shortening the turn limit the last.

Why? Because few things are more frustrating than to have the last enemy boss cornered, beat his hitpoints down into the red zone…and then, just as your valiant warriors are about to deal the death stroke, lose because you ran out of time. Players hate this, and with reason. You shouldn't do it to them.

Tight time limits occasionally have their uses. One is in “get your hero to the signpost” scenarios, like the first one in Heir To The Throne, or THoT::High Pass. Another is the inverse; scenarios where you have to hold out against enemies until the bell tolls, like the first scenario of Eastern Invasion. In both those situations you can use the time limit to build dramatic tension, and it seems natural in those contexts.

But for straight battle scenarios, time limits are almost always the wrong way to control difficulty. Think of them instead mainly as a way to control the amount of gold carried forward into the next scenario.

A good alternative to a short time limit is to give the enemy lots of income. That way, if the player doesn't defeat him quickly, he will pile up enough gold for a crushing advantage.
ESR acknowledges that it can be frustrating as you stated, to own the map and then just short of killing the leader you run out of turns. But I think this serves a purpose as well, because it shows the player that you cannot always own the whole map and win. Those 2 villages far out to the east? Maybe they are better left unclaimed so you can move on the leader. Main army keep getting stalled by the enemy? Maybe two forces are needed to try to beat the clock, making the enemy try to block both of them. I feel that the first thing a player should note in a scenario is the amount of time they are given to complete their objective and plan accordingly. It is too easy to play defensively if not given a time limit. Also, the turn limit often determines the amount of gold you get for the following scenario, which also encourages a player to go on the offensive in order to complete the scenario in a decent number of turns.

Not to mention, there are only a handful of times I have legitimately been close to winning a scenario and was defeated by the time running out.
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idn
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Re: What's the deal with the time limit?

Post by idn »

Yes, I understand the mechanics and why it's been implemented. I just don't like that it's just a message with no in-game consequences other than "you're dead, bye". I've accidentaly depleted all my turns once, so it's not that bad, but hell, was that frustrating. After that I've used all my turns on a couple of campaign scenarios on purpose to see if it's always like that (maybe it isn't, dunno, haven't checked everyting, that's why I wrote "most missions" ;).

Anyway, like that quotation - in a typical battle scenario the turn limit is hardly a way to control difficulty. As for the income, I think a better way would be to simply limit how much gold you can harvest from the villages. After all, it shouldn't be infinite.
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Turuk
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Re: What's the deal with the time limit?

Post by Turuk »

The whole issue with the message "You've been defeated, bye" is a matter of the design of the campaign. Often some authors will input interesting death messages from the main character or characters dying, the time limit running out, or the unit to be protected being killed or the like. It depends on how much time the individual wants to put into explaining the defeat (which is usually little).

If you want to look at an old discussion on this issue, look here.
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Re: What's the deal with the time limit?

Post by turin »

The thing is, you're not supposed to be "pushing" the time limit, most of the time - like ESR said, tight time limits are a bad idea. It's supposed to ensure you finish a scenario in a reasonable amount of time and don't just sit around stockpiling gold, not (most of the time) supposed to force you to finish it faster than is comfortable. But then everyone will always play the scenario to take advantage of the all the time available, and then get frustrated when they bump into the time limit...

Hm... perhaps scenarios should have "suggested final turn" that is separate from the time limit, saying when the scenario creator figures you ought to have the scenario done by? That would have people judge how to go about the scenario - how quickly to advance, how much to recruit, etc - the same way having a time limit does, but without the frustration inherent in the time limit that you lose if you go over it.
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Re: What's the deal with the time limit?

Post by zookeeper »

I bet everyone would think it's a good idea for someone to come up with some good bits of dialogue for the time over defeat events which currently lack proper explanation.
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Re: What's the deal with the time limit?

Post by Turuk »

Agreed, it is just a matter of making enough variety in the dialogue to cover the possible reasons, and would have to be doctored for various scenarios.

"No! We are undone, it is too late to save the (person)."
"They have held us up for too long. We will never reach the (place). (Person or Place) is doomed."
"We will never make it now. The (orcs/undead/trolls/enemy) will have overrun the (village/town/city) by now."
"I am too late. I will never reach (place) in time, and so, by my delay, our enemy will encounter no more resistance. Now the hordes will spill across our land, ravaging our towns and killing our people."

You could really come up with whatever you wanted, and it takes only a short amount of time.
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idn
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Re: What's the deal with the time limit?

Post by idn »

Only the death of a vip is any good for a battle scenario. "Oh no, I'm too late" when the boss has 1hp is pretty bad. A soft limit mentioned in the previous thread is a great idea imo. Something along the lines of: "a powerful sorcerer has come to aid the enemy" and his dark magic would make the enemy almost unbeatable. Or: "oh noes, our economy is busted, no more coins", while the enemy's economy remains strong. The kind of thing, that would make the scenario almost impossible to win, but if you're already one hit short of winning it wouldn't matter.
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Turuk
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Re: What's the deal with the time limit?

Post by Turuk »

None of what I wrote was catered to your circumstance of an almost killed boss, but running out of time in general.

"As they strove to make the final blow, (Main Character) realized that it was all for naught. (Enemy) had held them up long enough, and they would never reach (person or place) in time."

Alternatively:
"As they strove to make the final blow, (Main Character) realized that it was all for naught. (Enemy) had held them up long enough, and (MC) could see enemy reinforcements in the distance, ready to push them back."
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idn
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Re: What's the deal with the time limit?

Post by idn »

Yeah, but that's just a message. What if I could fight those reinforcements? Hell, even if they'd be unbeatable, I'd still like to fight them. ;)
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Re: What's the deal with the time limit?

Post by Turuk »

idn wrote:Yeah, but that's just a message. What if I could fight those reinforcements? Hell, even if they'd be unbeatable, I'd still like to fight them. ;)
Fair enough, but then what you are asking for is not just the removal of the turn limit, but a scenario that keeps running until the player decides it is over?
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Re: What's the deal with the time limit?

Post by idn »

Turuk wrote:Fair enough, but then what you are asking for is not just the removal of the turn limit, but a scenario that keeps running until the player decides it is over?
Not quite. I'm talking about a scenario that keeps running until the player's army dies for real, and not because a message said so.

If he's about to kill the boss it wouldn't matter, but if he isn't consider this:

- the player is lazy and plays defensively, amassing gold
- the enemy attacks and loses
- the game hits the turn limit
- the player's villages run dry, he can no longer recruit new units
- the enemy receives a messenger with a lot of gold and/or their units automagically level up. or maybe a wave of reinforcements comes.

This should effectively kill the player (unless he's been playing offensively from the beginning) without the need of a bland message.
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Re: What's the deal with the time limit?

Post by thespaceinvader »

idn wrote:Yeah, but that's just a message. What if I could fight those reinforcements? Hell, even if they'd be unbeatable, I'd still like to fight them. ;)
Take the 'stay and fight' option after the first scenario of SotBE. It would be a lot of extra work for campaign designers to code in decent unwinnable scenarios for every single occasion when they become necessary.
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idn
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Re: What's the deal with the time limit?

Post by idn »

Of course, it would be optional, but it would also be a hallmark of an exceptional campaign/scenario. Also, it would provide scenario makers with a whole lot of different possibilities.
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